No one can deny that the Wild improved with the draft day blockbuster trade with San Jose. We added a great scorer in Setoguchi and added Coyle and Phillips to the cupboard. Eight games into the season and we're already seeing the results of Chuck Fletcher's drafting. As sad as it is to say, with three assists, rookie Brett Bulmer has shown himself to be one of the most productive members of the Minnesota Wild roster. He plays with a good sense of the game and isn't afraid to throw what weight he has around. Just ask John Tavares! More after the jump.
Fletcher has made it clear that this team has to get younger and better. Not only has he stocked the cupboards full with talent, but he's also hired a young head coach in Mike Yeo who's proven himself to be a winner as evidenced with last year's Houston Aeros team. In addition, Cam Barker and Eric Nystrom were dropped, the Wild picked up a great young forward in Nick Johnson and the youth have really stepped up to fill the holes in the roster. Chuck is determined to make this franchise a success.
The Wild have several players that could make the leap next year. Heck, there's a potential future top six that could make the jump including Mikael Granlund, Zack Phillips, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle in addition to stellar defenseman, Jonas Brodin, and goaltender, Johan Gustafsson. Bulmer, the first of the Wild's three 2nd Round picks in 2010, has already made the leap and will likely stay with the Wild for the remainder of the season. While they have the potential to make the starting lineup right after training camp, Granlund, Brodin and Larsson will likely start the season out with Houston to get used to the North American game. Barring a phenominal training camp, Phillips will most likely go down to Houston and Coyle and Zucker will probably return to their college teams.
However, with all the youth coming up through the ranks, something has to give. There is already a log jam in net with Backstrom and Harding holding strong to the Wild positions, but Hackett, Endras and Kuemper are knocking at the door and there's still Michalek and Gustafsson to think of, as well. The farm team is already stocked with good talent, but you can't send every prospect to spend two or three years down there.
Trading Burns and buying out Barker provided the opportunity for guys like Scandella, Spurgeon, Falk and Prosser to step up and prove their worth; three of the four are still up with the big club. Dropping Nystrom has opened the door for Bulmer, Johnson and Kassian to shine and they've done a pretty good job of it. Who do you move to make way for Granlund, Phillips or Coyle and what or who do you trade them for?
Here's where things get difficult. Do we trade a guy like Brodziak, Latendresse, Cullen or Bouchard or do we make that log jam in net an advantage and get rid of Backstrom's salary or the injury prone (and one of my favorite goalies) Harding? I don't know much about Endras, but I definitely believe Hackett and Kuemper are the goaltenders of the future for the Wild. The Wild could probably get a couple of picks for Brodziak and possibly some prospects, first round picks and/or second round picks for either Latendresse, Cullen or Bouchard.
As much as I miss Burnsie, the trade did two things for the Wild: 1. It brought the Wild some offense and good prospects and 2. It made way for the youth to come up and claim their place in the lineup. Perhaps that's what is needed in order for this team to succeed and if it means seeing the likes of Granlund, Phillips and Coyle in the lineup...I'm okay with that.